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How to make cheese sauce: a simple step-by-step recipe

Updated on June 2, 2013
Imogen French profile image

Imogen is from West Dorset, in the UK. She works in publishing and writes mainly about the environment, gardening, and vegetarian food.

A cheese, onion and potato bake made using home-made cheese sauce.
A cheese, onion and potato bake made using home-made cheese sauce. | Source

Cook Time

  • Prep time: 5 min
  • Cook time: 10 min
  • Ready in: 15 min
  • Yields: 1 pint

How do you rate this recipe?

5 stars from 2 ratings of Cheese sauce

Cheese sauce is such a versatile sauce, and is a very useful thing to be able to make, especially for use in vegetarian recipes. I often make up a big batch and freeze in in half pint containers ready to use in a vegetable bake or a cauliflower cheese.

This recipe will make one pint of sauce.


  • 3 oz butter
  • 1 1/2 oz plain flour
  • 1 pint milk
  • 4 oz good flavoured hard cheese (eg. cheddar or emmental), grated
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a non-stick or heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat
  • Remove from heat and stir in the flour, salt and pepper, stirring quite well to make sure there are no lumps
  • Add the cold milk - only about a tablespoonful at a time - and mix until smooth before adding any more. When you have mixed it all in return to the heat
  • Bring to the boil very slowly, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon.
  • As it nears boiling point you will feel it start to thicken in the pan. It is essential that you stir very well at this point to prevent lumps from forming (* see note below if you get lumps)
  • Once you see the first bubble in the sauce it should be thick enough, so remove from the heat
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes before adding the grated cheese and stir in until melted
  • Use the sauce to pour over vegetables, or to use in your favourite recipe.

* Note: If you happen to turn your back at the wrong moment and find yourself with lumpy sauce it can be rescued by removing from the heat immediately and whisking vigorously until smooth again. In extreme cases a blender can come to the rescue!

As mentioned above the sauce freezes very well, and can also be stored in the fridge for a couple of days.


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    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 5 years ago from Southwest England

      Hi Tara, I know what you mean, but I've found that so long as you stir it when you reheat it the lumps usually disappear. Maybe try stirring with a wire whisk?

    • Tara McNerney profile image

      Tara McNerney 5 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you for this! I've made cheese sauce before and as soon as it cools it turns clumpy. Any thoughts on why this might be?

    • LadyLyell profile image

      LadyLyell 5 years ago from George, South Africa

      As always, interesting and all tips are noted, thanks!

    • Gloshei profile image

      Gloria 5 years ago from France

      Just bookmarked from your other hub, thanks Imogen will try this next week with sausages.